From Milliken Field to Boston University

Today, March 19th marks the first day of high school lacrosse practice for most boys and girls teams in the state. Today is the first step they will take on their journey to Boston University in becoming State Champions.

I believe it is worth asking the question; what does it take to be a state champion? 

Does it take talent? Yes.

Does it take dedication? Yes.

Does it take luck?  Perhaps.

By the estimation of most, it takes all of these factors, as well as few other variables that often fall under everyone's radar. As we get set for the season, I'd like to take a moment to highlight some of the vital, yet unheralded factors I believe are equally if not as important.

Behind every State Championship…

You will find a group of extremely passionate and supportive parents. When the Cohasset boys won the state championship game in 2014, I will always remember how close that group of remarkable parents were. They were nothing short of spectacular while they watched their sons win at Boston University and subsequently create a memory that ‘WILL’ last longer than a lifetime. Their solid union was not born at the start of this lacrosse season, but rather at pickup & drop off at the blue, red, and yellow rooms.  Or maybe it was formed in the booths of Cohasset House of Pizza after the many town youth lacrosse practices and games.  Lax Parents have sacrificed more weekends than they probably care to admit albeit traveling on planes, ferries, and long car rides up and down the east coast to watch and support their kids compete against the best. And while the sacrifices they have made over the past 14 years are definitely real, they have also developed a formidable group that's baked in their desires to see their sons and daughters do the best they can both on and off the field. And in so doing, they have also forged life-long friendships.

Photo credit, Dan Leahy

Photo credit, Dan Leahy

Behind every State Championship…

You will find a strong youth lacrosse program. Look no further than Lincoln Sudbury who in my opinion is the gold standard of town lacrosse. Set aside that they are consistently ranked as one of the top 20 best high school teams in our nation, and instead look at the values and culture their town program bestows to its youth. If you care to understand further why LS Lacrosse goes well beyond a sport, please take 10 minutes and read the following ESPN piece, you won't be disappointed. If you don’t have the time, I’ll give you the cheat sheet, the reason why Lincoln Sudbury is such a great program is that everything they do is based on benefiting their community and team. As future Hall of Fame coach Brian Vona notes, “We don’t do club around here, we do Lincoln-Sudbury,”  

Starts at Milliken and ends at Boston University.

Starts at Milliken and ends at Boston University.

When Scoops Lacrosse began its journey on November 2017, the purpose was simple; create a platform for our younger kids, no matter the gender or skill level, to have opportunities to have fun while learning the fundamentals of this great game. In short, Scoops would be a positive learning atmosphere that encouraged exercise, creativity, and learning. This past weekend, our purposeful program reached 100 Scoopers. Of that 100, we have 36 girls in our classes which I personally couldn't be more thrilled about. And while our goal is to continue growing and offering Scoops, last week I made a decision to hold off on offering Scoops Clinics to anyone ages 7 and above during the Spring. The reason was clearly not a business decision but rather my strong convictions that if you want to win State Championships at the High School level, then our community first needs to focus its time, energy, and resources towards town youth lacrosse.  In most towns at the age 7 or 1st grade, you are allowed to sign up for town lacrosse and you should. While my 3 healthy trouble making boys are not at that age yet, they will be soon and I want them to experience all the benefits that go along with town youth lacrosse. 

Behind every State Championship…

You will find a group of teammates who before they could play at a high level, they were friends doing what I see every Scooper do each Sunday…having fun.

So if you’re still wondering how State Championship are won, look no further than 50 Bancroft Street in Cohasset, MA, the official address of Milliken Field.  As many of you reading this can probably attest to, Milliken is most importantly home to where the majority of Cohasset youth sports are played and where camaraderie is born. The same camaraderie that showcased itself so beautifully at last year's girl's state championship game. Under the guidance of their amazing coaching staff (K, J, J), the lady skippers utterly dominated their opponent to win the 2017 State Championship and created a memory that will last a lifetime. A few hours after the whistle blew, the team headed back to 02025, I decided to bring my four-year-old son, Archer, to the back of CHS. Not only was I excited to help greet and congratulate our state champions, but I also wanted Archie to see with his own eyes the happiness a state championship brings. As the bus turned onto Pond Street, you began to hear the roars and cheers coming from the loving families, friends, and fans in our amazing community. When the players and coaches got off the bus, boy oh boy it was the coolest thing to see. A group of lacrosse players and their coaches having the time of their lives. Taking pictures, dishing out hugs all while smiling from ear to ear.  When we got back into the car, Archer said to me, “I want to be a champion. They have so much fun.” As a parent, coach, and fan, I will never forget that moment, it is everything great about sports and then some.

Photo credit, Dan Leahy

Photo credit, Dan Leahy

A few final parting thoughts...

I encourage all of you to sign up for town lacrosse, get involved, and make a difference. You can start by enrolling today.

The weather will warm up around these parts and when it does, please take your little Scooper to watch the girls or boys varsity team play. The admission is free for the kids and you're bound to see a great performance. 

The boy's varsity team this year is going to be something special to watch. I couldn't be more proud of each and every one of you. 

Kully, Jen, and Joe along with the girls have got 'it' going on. Would need to dig out a Cohasset Sports Historian but curious if our town has ever had a back to back state champion.

Hats off to Ron Ford, Cohasset's longtime athletic director. Stepping into Clark's shoes was no easy task but you've done one heck of a job, coach. 

For any players reading this, the next time you see one of the Cohasset Lacrosse Boosters please say thank you. 

Did you know that one of our own residents is considered by many to be one of the top-midfielders ever to play high school lacrosse in Massachusetts. Now, good luck getting Joe Donovan to admit this. 

It goes without saying but the majority of our lacrosse memories are largely in part to the fantastic pictures from Dan "The Legend" Leahy.

Wishing Davey Emala, the boy's varsity assistant coach the best of luck in his first of hopefully many years with the Skippers. 

Shout out to Austin Lyne at The Good Sport for not only providing the best Lacrosse equipment but more importantly always delivering the best service with a smile.

Finally, for the first time in 6 years, I won't be on the sidelines coaching the boy's varsity team. Instead, I'll be rooting like crazy with the Alumni while doing my best to keep up with Jill Fitz from the sidelines.  

I hope to see everyone at Milliken field this spring but if I don't catch you there, be sure to say hi at Boston University. 

Respectfully yours,

Coach Bels

This piece is dedicated to the memory of Will Golden #19. The best Scooper of all time. 

Matt BelsonComment